The Naomi Feinbrun-Dothan Archive, Israel, 20th century
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Text: In 1960, Naomi Feinbrun-Dothan and Ruth Koppel published Wild Plants in the Land of Israel (Tsimhe bar be-erets Yisrael), a color publication that included among its many descriptions and illustrations the Jerusalem pine, the poppy, the oleander, and the Egyptian clove. Koppel’s handwritten notes on the galleys of this volume shed light on her artistic process and commitment to depicting the specimen reliably. The partners’ work culminated in the publication of The Flora of Palestine, a monumental research project documenting all local flora and the environs.
The National Library of Israel is home to the archive of these remarkable women, which includes sketches, illustrations, and a three-decade-long correspondence testifying to a symbiotic relationship between scientist and artist. The archival materials offer a unique angle on the story of the national, scientific, and linguistic enterprise to identify local vegetation and develop Hebrew terminology. They also provide us with the rare personal testimony of two women, both immigrants, and pioneers, making their way through the academic thicket in the early years of the State. During her life, Feinbrun-Dothan’s studies were published in academic journals and books for the general public, addressed “to the residents of the land, to tourists… to readers in the diaspora eager to get to know the country and its flora.”
Illustrations and notes by Ruth Koppel prepared for the publication of Wild Plants in the Land of Israel (Tsimhe bar be-erets Yisrael), Tel Aviv, 1960. The Naomi Feinbrun-Dothan Archive, donated by Uriel Safriel. ARC. 4° 2071.
Photography by Ardon Bar-Hama.
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) serves as Israel's preeminent research library
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